Papers of John Adams, volume 16

The American Commissioners to the Baron von Thulemeier, 9 September 1784 American Commissioners Adams, John Franklin, Benjamin Jefferson, Thomas Thulemeier, Friedrich Wilhelm, Baron von
The American Commissioners to the Baron von Thulemeier
Sir Passy near Paris Septr. 9th. 17841

The United States of America in Congress Assembled judging that an intercourse between the Subjects of His Prussian Majesty and the Citizens of the said States founded on the principles of equality reciprocity and friendship, may be of mutual advantage to both nations, on the twelfth day of May last, issued their Commission under the Seal of the said States to the Subscribers as their Ministers plenipotentiary, giving to them or the majority of them full power & authority for them the said States & in their name to confer treat and negotiate with the Ambassador, Minister or Commissioner of His Said Prussian Majesty vested with full & sufficient powers, of & concerning a Treaty of Amity and Commerce, to make and receive propositions for such Treaty and to conclude & sign the Same, transmitting it to the said United States in Congress assembled for their final ratification.

We have now the honour to inform your Excellency that we have received this Commission in due form, and that we are here ready to enter on the negotiation, and to reconsider & compleat the plan of a Treaty which has already been transmitted by your Excellency to your Court, whenever a full power from His said Prussian Majesty shall appear for that purpose.2

We have further the honour to request of your Excellency that you would transmit this information to your Court, and to be with great respect / Your Excellency’s / Most obedient & / Most humble servants

(signed) John Adams Benjamin Franklin Thomas Jefferson3

FC in David Humphreys’ hand (PCC, No. 116, f. 30–32).


David Humphreys forwarded this letter to C. W. F. Dumas, who personally delivered it to Thulemeier at The Hague on 23 September. Thulemeier read the letter in Dumas’ presence and promised to forward it to his government. He also asked Dumas to inquire whether Congress had approved the Proposed Prussian-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, [9 April – post 5 May], above. Dumas wrote to Humphreys to report on his interview with Thulemeier on the day it took place (Nationaal Archief:Dumas Papers, Microfilm, Reel 2, f. 643).


The commissioners’ statement in this sentence led Thulemeier and the Prussian government to expect a renewal of negotiations on the draft treaty that Thulemeier submitted to JA on 9 April, above. In fact, the Americans would offer a new draft treaty and thereby cause some confusion on the part of 320 the Prussians, for which see Thulemeier’s 1 Oct. letter to JA, and the Negotiation of the 10 September 1785 Prussian-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, 10 Nov. 1784–14 March 1785, Editorial Note, and Nos. I and II, all below. For the commission, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 8, above.


Humphreys noted at the foot of the FC that “a similar Letter was addressed at the same time to His Excellency the Count de Souza de Coutinho Ambassador from their most faithful Majesties at the Court of Versailles.” The letter to Thulemeier is identical, allowing for the different person and country being addressed, to the 9 Sept. 1784 letter that JA drafted for transmission to the Conde de Sousa Coutinho, Portuguese ambassador to France (Jefferson, Papers , 7:419). That letter was also the model for letters of 22 Sept. that the commissioners sent to other diplomats at Versailles, including Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea, Conde de Aranda, ambassador from Spain; Prince Ivan Sergeevich Bariatinskii, minister from Russia; Jean Baptiste Rivière, chargé d’affaires of the legation of Saxony; Luigi Pio, chargé d’affaires of the legation of Naples; Conte Filippo Maria Giuseppe Ottone Ponte di Scarnafigi, ambassador from Sardinia; Archbishop Giuseppe Doria Pamfili, papal nuncio; and Chevalier Daniel Dolfin, ambassador from Venice. On the 30th, the commissioners sent virtually the same letter to Francesco Favi, chargé d’affaires of the legation of Tuscany, its dispatch having been delayed owing to “a mistake in transcribing.” Two days earlier, the commissioners had written along similar lines to Erik Magnus, Baron Staël von Holstein, minister from Sweden, indicating that on 3 June Congress had empowered them to negotiate supplementary provisions to the 1783 Swedish-American treaty (PCC, No. 116, f. 34–36; Repertorium , 3:291, 317, 354, 374, 395, 408, 423, 430–431, 451, 463; Jefferson, Papers , 7:428–429). For the commissioners’ 15 Sept. 1784 meeting with the Comte de Vergennes to announce their new commission, see their memorandum at that date, below.

C. W. F. Dumas to John Adams, 10 September 1784 Dumas, C. W. F. Adams, John
From C. W. F. Dumas
Monsieur, La Haie 10e. 7br. 1784

Quoique malade depuis 8 jours, je fais cependant des efforts, non seulement pour vous acheminer l’incluse pour le Congrès dont le contenu Vous mettra au fait de la suite des affaires ici, mais aussi pour ré[pon]dre à votre faveur du 25 Août un peu plus en détail que je n’ai pu faire dans mes deux précédentes, la 1e. sous couvert de Mr. Ths. Barclay, la suivante directement à V. E. selon l’adresse prescrite, espérant d’apprendre, que l’une & l’autre sont bien parvenues en vos mains.1

Nous avons été d’autant plus aise ici à la reception de votre susdite Lettre, que 8 ou 10 jours après votre départ le bruit couroit ici, qu’un Paquebot allant en Angleterre, S’étoit perdu. J’avois cependant caché cela chez moi, pour n’allarmer personne, & il n’y avoit que moi seul d’inquiet à ce sujet, com̃e à tous ceux où je puis épargner de la peine autres. Maintenant je vous félicite, ainsi que votre chere famille, de pouvoir me raconter les fatigues & travaux passés, au milieu du calme, de la tranquillité, de la salubrité de votre belle habitation, de votre Parc de Boulogne, & surtout des bras de Made. Adams, à laquelle nous présentons nos respects. Veuillez aussi les faire agréer à L. E. Mess. Franklin & Jepherson.

321 322

Nous ne som̃es pas moins mortifiés que V. E. de ce que vous n’avez pu résider au moins un mois ici avec Madame & Mademoiselle Adams, puisque cela nous auroit procuré l’honneur de leur connoissance personnelle, & que nous aurions eu la satisfaction en même temps de revoir Mr. votre fils, dont nous regrettons souvent l’aimable société.

Je suis avec grand respect, / De Votre Excellence / Le très-humble & très-obéissant / serviteur

C.w.f. Dumas
Sir The Hague, 10 September 1784

Although sick for the last eight days, I am nonetheless making the effort not only to forward to you the enclosed for Congress, the contents of which will inform you about the course of events here, but also to respond to your letter of 25 August in detail, which I was not able to do in my two most recent letters, the first sent in care of Mr. Thomas Barclay, the second sent directly to your excellency at the designated address. I hope to learn that both of them arrived safely in your hands.1

We were especially relieved here to receive your abovementioned letter, as eight or ten days after your departure the rumor spread here that a packet boat on its way to England had been lost. I nonetheless kept this to myself in order not to alarm anyone, and I was the only one who worried about it, as I always want to spare others from suffering. Now I congratulate you as well as your dear family on being able to recount to me past fatigues and travails in the midst of the calm, tranquility, and salubriousness of your beautiful home, your Bois de Boulogne, and above all the arms of Mrs. Adams, to whom we send our respects. Please also give them to their excellencies Messrs. Franklin and Jefferson.

We are no less mortified than your excellency that you were not able to reside here with Mrs. and Miss Adams at least a month, because then we would have had the honor of making their personal acquaintance, and at the same time we would have had the satisfaction of seeing your son again, whose charming company we often miss.

I am with great respect your excellency’s very humble and very obedient servant

C.w.f. Dumas

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “A S. E. M. Adams M. P. des E. U.”


Dumas likely did not send this letter until 12 Sept. because he probably enclosed his 9 Sept. letter to the president of Congress, to which he appended a 12 Sept. postscript. There Dumas reported the States of Zeeland’s approval of a Franco-Dutch defensive alliance, with which the States General had unanimously concurred. He also enclosed a copy of the 8 Sept. memorial presented by Laurent Bérenger, the Duc de La Vauguyon’s secretary, to the States General. There Louis XVI urged the Dutch assembly to propose terms for a negotiated settlement of the conflict with Joseph II and to avoid any action that might give offense to the Austrian emperor. In his postscript Dumas 323 added that the Comte de Vergennes had given the Dutch ministers at Versailles confidential assurances that if the French king’s efforts at mediation proved unfruitful, he would employ more effective means on behalf of the Dutch Republic (PCC, No. 93, III, f. 27–29; No. 115B, f. 51–52; Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789 , 3:515–516). Dumas’ most recent letter to JA was dated 31 Aug., for which see note 2 to JA’s letter to Dumas of 25 Aug., above; Dumas also wrote on 3 Sept., above.